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There were so many items we loved this year. Here is our favorites of 2015.

The Gift of Theatre

Who’s Your Badhdaddy or How I Won The Iraq War: Was hilarious, creative, clever, inspiring, a breath of fresh air with a score that I would buy right now, if I could. This new musical by Marshall Pailet (Claudio Quest, Triassic Parq) and A.D. Penedo (The Three Times She Knocked), was skillfully directed by Marshall Pailet, with fabulous choreography by Misha Shields. Sadly this show has closed.

Cynthia Erivo, The Color Purple

Cynthia Erivo and women ensemble in The Color Purple

The Color Purple: In a season of plot lines that show the negative side of life, the new revival of The Color Purple at the Bernard Jacobs Theatre is full of hope and inspiration. I see Tony gold for this production. Hands down, this is my favorite show of the year, so far.

Hamilton: This hip-hop musical is like 1776, Les Miz, In The Heights, Rent and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson all rolled into one, plus more. It is an exciting new form of musical, with original music as well as throwbacks to the past. The choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler, will have anyone who sees this, wanting to learn this prolific new dance language.

Therese Raquin: Like a film by Ingmar Bergman or Lena Wertmuller. It is bleak, haunted, slow and concentrated. It is like watching a film more than a piece of theatre. It is the perfect blending of the two forms. I was transfixed.

Lost Girls: Raw, gritty and oh so real. The promises of first love last despite the odds. This so far is my favorite play of the season. Closed.

The Performers We Will Be Watching

Sophia Anne Carus

Sophia Anne Caruso

Sophia Anne Caruso: Blew Us Away  with her performances in Lazarus and The Nether. Oh my God! what a voice. This girl can sing anything and her voice is crystal clear, with a never ending range. Her acting is layered and profound and she is only fourteen.

Cynthia Erivo as Celie in The Color Purple knocks this role out of the park. She is memorizing and exquisite to watch as she plays the gamut of emotions, ages and situations. We love her, feel her pain and cheer endlessly when she declares her stance of hope, faith and perseverance.

Nathan Gardner: In the new musical by Allan Knee The Astonishing Times of Timothy Cratchit, the lead Nathan Gardner caught our eye. Just in town 3 months Gardner is the real deal. He can act, sing, dance and makes us love him. With a young Nick Jonas look T2C predicts this boy will be a star.

Richard Goulding caught our eye in King Charles III. Standing out from the rest of his castmates as the raffish Harry Goulding is genuine, comedic, vulnerable and layered.

The Gift of Music

Barbara Cook Loverman: Age seems to agree with Ms. Cook, who sounds amazingly, better and better. She has one of the greatest voices and is a prolific storyteller of the American songbook. Who knew at 80 you could still astound. This 15-track set is almost entirely arranged and orchestrated by Ted Rosenthal. Highlights include “I Don’t Want Love,” “If I Love Again,” “More Than You Know,” and the title track “Loverman.”

Carolyn Montgomery-Forant

Carolyn Montgomery-Forant

Carolyn Montgomery-Forant with  Jon Webber Visable Phoenix: This is a CD for Cabaret artists and writers to see how it’s done. Recorded live at the Laurie Beechman, Ms. Forant is a humorous writer, with an astounding range and texture to her voice. The Shire/ Maltby “Life Story” had me wondering why she wasn’t pursuing the musical theatre route, while Micahael John LaChiusa’s “Remember Me” from Big Fish had me remembering why I loved that score. Forant brings a sincere haunting quality to the piece, which is lovely. My favorite numbers however are the ones Ms. Forant has written herself. They are truly comic works of genius.

Eric Michael Gillett Careless Rhapsody: The Lyrics of Lorenz Hart: Lisetening to Eric sing is like listening to a soul be set free. Gillette brings depth and a new meaning to these classic songs and you will finally understand their meanings in a way you never have. “Have You Met Miss Jones” into “Wait Till You see Her” will have you listening again and again as will My Romance into “My Funny Valentine.”

It Shoulda Been You: I loved this show on Broadway and was sorry that  the show had such a short run. Thankfully the score has been captured on CD. The lyrics by Brian Hargrove are witty and clever. I sent my writers to this show, while the music by Barbara Anselmi, is bright and tuneful, with “Whatever,” “Jenny’s Blues” and “A Little Bit Less Than” standing out. It would have been a crime for the talented Lisa Howard and Josh Grisetti not to be recorded.

Telly Leung Songs For You: Currently staring on Broadway in Allegiance, Leung is best known as Wes on “Glee” and his Broadway work in Godspell, Rent and Flower Drum Song. This heatfelt singer shines on “Human Nature,” “On My Way” and “I Just Had to Hear Your Voice.” We look forward to seeing what this stunning vocalist can do.

The Gift of Reading

Mama Joanie’s Family Cook Book

Mama Joanie’s Family Cook Book

Mama Joanie’s Family Cook Book Celebrating the Jewish and Italian Holidays: Jewish and Italian families pride themselves on tradition. Tradition is what the Bongiorno family is all about, and what you get in this volume of culinary secrets. Passed down through generations, this is a cookbook with recipes galore. You just choose a holiday and open to that page. Simple! I loved the “Apple Matzo Kugel” and the  “Meatballs” were out of this world.

Seth’s Broadway Diary Volume 2: Having never read Volume 1, I was glued to Seth’s hysterically funny book. Seth is Seth Rudetsky the Broadway host on Sirius XM, an actor, musician and Playbill.com columnist. Featuring stories from Broadway performers such as Lea Salonga, Megan Hilty, Gavin Creel, Idina Menzel, Lin-Manuel Miranda and more, this is a must-have for anyon who keeps up with the broadway buzz.

 Judy Jacksina

A rockin Judy Jacksina!

Razzle Dazzle Michael Riedel: This is the must have book of 2015. Riedel brings back the Broadway of the 70’s and 80’s and pulls away the curtain. You will never look at Broadway the same way again after this candid and well written expose on the world of theatre. Chapter 20 is our favorite. Bravo Judy Jacksina, you rock.

Our Favorite Stocking Stuffers

Cracked Candy is sugar free, vegan, diabetic-friendly and healthy. Their  not-so-secret ingredient is birchwood xylitol, a natural sweetener and sugar alternative, that is good for your teeth. Even better the kitchen that they use provides opportunities to people with disabilities. This is a win, win anyway you look at it.

Cyrotherapy

Cyrotherapy

Cyrotherapy is a three-minute treatment that burns up to 800 calories, release an eight ball’s worth of endorphins, improves sleep, boost the immune system, reduce inflammation, smooth wrinkles, helps with rheumatoid-arthritis and heals joint pain. You will see and feel the effects immediately. To get this fabulous treatment go to Skintology at 157 East 57th Street.

Eve Pearl is a 5-Time Emmy Award Winner, Author and Authority on Beauty. She is a leader in the industry with two decades of experience as a makeup professional in television, film, theatre, print, setting the standards and trends in global beauty. Her make-up and skin care line bring immediate results. Eve’s book, ‘Plastic Surgery without the Surgery, The Miracle of Makeup Techniques’, has become a cult favorite and “must have” for beauty insight!

ScentBird: is a monthly perfume subscription. For $14.95 a month you get amazing scents that are just like all of the really expensive ones on the market and they come in adorable packaging.

Squeeze Juice is our favorite way to cleanse and ring in the New Year. These are the best tasting juices on the market and the healtiest.

Suzanna, co-owns and publishes the newspaper Times Square Chronicles or T2C. At one point a working actress, she has performed in numerous productions in film, TV, cabaret, opera and theatre. She has performed at The New Orleans Jazz festival, The United Nations and Carnegie Hall. She has a screenplay and a TV show in the works, which she developed with her mentor and friend the late Arthur Herzog. She is a proud member of the Drama Desk and the Outer Critics Circle and was a nominator. Email: suzanna@t2conline.com

Broadway

Ken Fallin’s Broadway: Sweeney Todd’s New Cast

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Aaron Tveit and Sutton Foster joined the Broadway revival of Sweeney Todd February 9th, at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre. They replaced Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford, who both earned 2023 Tony nominations for their leading performances in the production.

The Tony Award winning Tveit stepped into the role of Sweeney Todd, which is his first Broadway role since he originated the lead, Christian, in Moulin Rouge! The Musical. He is also known for his performances in Wicked, Catch Me If You Can, Hairspray, and Rent. Tveit has also portrayed several musical theatre roles on screen, such as Enjolras in the film adaptation of Les Misérables (2012), as well as Danny Zuko in Fox’s Grease: Live (2016). In television, he was Gareth Ritter on BrainDead, Tripp van der Bilt on Gossip Girl, Mike Warren on Graceland, and Danny Bailey/Topher in Schmigadoon!.

Foster’s last Broadway role was Marian Paroo in the 2021 revival of The Music Man, which earned her a Tony nomination the following year. She has earned six additional nominations and she is a two-time Tony winner for Thoroughly Modern Millie and Anything Goes. Her other credits include Violet and Little Women. In 2016, she starred opposite Aaron Tveit and Betty Buckley in the Stephen Schwartz revue Defying Gravity in Australia. She appeared in the Off-Broadway revival of Sweet Charity and was in the miniseries Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life opposite her ex-husband, Christian Borle. She made guest appearances on The Good Wife and Mad Dogs, she is known for her role as Liza Miller in Younger. A month earlier she wow’d audiences as Winfred in the Encore production of Once Upon A Mattress.

Now the two are winning raves in this macabre masterpiece of musical theatre,

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Broadway

Museum of Broadway Celebrates Black History Month

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Museum of Broadway, 145 W. 45th Street, upcoming February Events

Saturday, February 24th | 12:00 PM

The Museum of Broadway Presents: A History of Minstrelsy with Ben West 

Join musical theatre artist and historian Ben West, author of the upcoming book The American Musical, for a journey into the history of minstrelsy, including its legacy of blackface on Broadway, its trailblazing Black artists, and its impact on the development of the American musical. Note: This talk will involve mature content.

– Event link here

Monday, February 26th | 11:00 AM

The Museum of Broadway Presents: A Conversation with Black Broadway Creatives

Join in celebrating and honoring the lives, careers, and experiences of Black Broadway creatives in the American theater.  Panelists include Ken Hanson, Dante Harrell, Destiny Lilly, Zane Mark, Thelma Pollard and Virginia Woodruff, in-conversation with Erich McMillian-McCall of Project 1 Voice.

– Event link here

Wednesday, February 28th | 12:00 PM

The Museum of Broadway Presents: Mary & Ethel…And Mikey Who? 

Talkback and Book Signing with award-winning author Stephen Cole joined by famed cabaret star Klea Blackhurst and special guest Anita Gillette

– Event link here 

Thursday, February 29th |10:30 AM

The Museum of Broadway Presents: Spotlight on Black Broadway Producers

Join acclaimed award-winning producers Rashad Chambers, Sade Lythcott & Brian Anthony Moreland in-conversation with Merrily We Roll Along’s Krystal Joy Brown

– Event link here

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Broadway

The Glorious Corner

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G.H. Harding

MORE MURDER — (Via Deadline) Sophie Ellis-Bextor is gearing up to tour around North America for the first time and adding more cities for fans to see her perform “Murder on the Dance Floor” live.

The British singer’s song is featured in the final scene of Emerald Fennell’s Saltburn, where Barry Keoghan’s Oliver dances naked around the manor. After the scene went viral, the song, co-written by Ellis-Bextor and Gregg Alexander, also went viral on social media. “Murder on the Dance Floor” was originally released in 2001, but it never charted on the Billboard Hot 100 until now, peaking at 51 recently.

Ellis-Bextor recently made an appearance on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon where she performed the viral hit and the star is now embarking on a North America tour.

The artist announced her first-ever live show in NYC, set to take place on June 6 at Webster Hall, and the date quickly sold out. Ellis-Bextor has now announced more dates across the U.S. and Canada that will take her to San Francisco, San Diego, Boston, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia.

“Oh my… the New York show sold out in a day! Thank you thank you thank you,” Ellis-Bextor said in her newsletter announcing the additional tour dates. “So – how about some more shows in some more cities?! My band and I are coming for you! Super excited. Come and dance with me….”

May 30: August Hall (San Francisco, CA)May 31: The Observatory North Park (San Diego, CA)June 3: 9:30 Club (Washington D.C.)June 4: Royale Boston (Boston, MA)June 5: Union Transfer (Philadelphia, PA)June 6: Webster Hall (New York City, NY)June 8: Danforth Music Hall (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

I love this record, because its an actual song. Sure, they repeat the title about three-dozen times, but its a great track.

Neil Diamond and Micky Dolenz

NOISE CLOSES — (Via Deadline) Broadway’s A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical will play its final performance on Sunday, June 30, before launching a national tour this fall, producers announced today.

The musical, which began previews on November 2, 2022, at the Broadhurst Theatre and opened that year on December 4, will have played 35 preview performances and 657 regular performances when it closes.

As I’ve said, early reviews of the show, kind of stopped me from going to this. An artist who is even referenced in the play said to me ‘why would I go to a play that got bad reviews.’ Understood.

But, I did see it and absolutely loved it. Of course, I’m somewhat on the business side and loved all the insider-nuances. And, I saw it with the original performers in it.

There will be a national tour and I predict it will be a huge hit as Diamond’s music is multi-generational. As I’ve said, I preferred Diamond’s “Solitary Man”-period more than “America” and “I Am, I Said.” Although, “Turn On Your Heart Light” (written with Carole Bayer Sager and Burt Bacharach) was a great record.

An icon for certain.

SHORT TAKES — Warner’s second Aquaman movie; Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom will stream on MAX on February 27. The first Aquaman movie, out in 2018, remains the highest-grossing DC film of all time. The sequel, after a plethora of media, mostly about Amber Heard, disappeared in a matter of weeks … Broadway-journeyman and Rockers On Broadway-creator Donnie Kehr recupping. Get well soon brother! … Keith Girard’s New York Independent featured an interview with 17-old wunderkind Kjersti Long. Check it out: https://www.thenyindependent.com/music/1704991/kjersti-long-17-explores-her-jersey-roots-by-way-of-utah-with-power-pop-style-video/

Pet Shop Boys

Just listened to the Pet Shop Boys “West End Girls.” What a tremendous record that hold up amazingly well all these years later. It came out in 1984 and produced by Bobby Orlando … Amazon shuttering Freevee? First off, as an offshoot of Amazon, this has got to be one of the worst monikers ever! I mean, FreeVee ... always sounded like frisbee!  Adios … Thursday’s Law & Order was the ode to Sam Waterston’s Jack McCoy-character (Last Dance).

Sam Waterston

After 404 episodes, we had to say goodbye. It wasn’t the greatest episode, but when McCoy took over the case and presented it to the jury, Waterston shone brightly. When McCoy said to Hugh Dancy (Nolan Ryan), it was a hell of a ride, it resonated terrifically. Thanks Jack! …

True Detective

I loved the finale on HBO of True Detective with Jodie Foster and Kali Reis. I didn’t understand it all, but the look and direction (by Issa Lopez) and Jodie Foster was just superb. I had forgotten just how good an actress Foster was. Sure, she was good in Nyad, but it was a supporting role. Here, she was just stellar. I’d like to see more of her …

Micky Jones

It was a grim week medically speaking as talk-show hostess Wendy Williams was diagnosed with aphasia and dementia and Mick Jones of Foreigner, with Parkinson’s. Sending prayers to both … And finally, news surfaced Thursday that an “inebriated” Andy Cohen harassed Brandi Glanville. I don’t know Andy at all, but his bad-boy antics of the last several years were clearly leading to something like this. Glanville’s lawyers even invoked NBC’s Matt Lauer in their brief. Expect a huge media brouhaha over this one. Sad for sure … Happy Bday Lou Christie; Niki Avers and Chloe Gaier.

NAMES IN THE NEWS — Steve Walter; Obi Steinman; Felix Cavaliere; Tom & Lisa Cuddy; Kent Kotal; Ace Frehley; Alex Saltzman; Lush Ice; Tony King; Barry Zelman; Justin Ridener; Kent & Laura Denmark; Mark Bego; Mark Scheerer; Barbara Shelley; and SADIE!

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Broadway

Stephen Schwartz To Be Inducted into The Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame

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Legendary Award Winning Broadway and Movie Music Composer Stephen Schwartz (Wicked, Godspell, Pippin) will be inducted into the Long Island Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame (LIMEHOF) on Saturday, March 23rd, 2024 at 7pm.

There will also be concert emceed by Musician Paul Shaffer (from the David Letterman Show) who worked with Schwartz early in his career.

Schwartz has won 4 Grammys and 3 Oscars among other awards in his career that spans over 50 years both on Broadway and on the silver screen. Additionally, Schwartz has contributed music and lyrics to several movies such as “Pocahontas” (1995), “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1996), “The Prince of Egypt” (1998), and “Enchanted” (2007).He was also involved with the upcoming feature film adaptation of Wicked to be released in the fall.

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Broadway

Ani DiFranco and Lola Tung Join Hadestown

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The Tony and Grammy Award®-winning Best Musical Hadestown is currently stars Grammy Award winner Ani DiFranco as Persephone singing “Our Lady Of The Underground”.

 Lola Tung (“The Summer I Turned Pretty”) as Eurydice, Jordan Fisher (Dear Evan Hansen, Grease: Live,) as Orpheus here singing “All I’ve Ever Known”.

Grammy Award nominee Phillip Boykin as Hades, and Tony Award winner Lillias White as Hermes.

They are joined by Belén Moyano, Kay Trinidad, and Brit West as the Fates. The chorus of Workers is played by Emily Afton, Malcolm Armwood, Chibueze Ihuoma, Alex Puette, and Grace Yoo. The cast includes swings Sojourner Brown, Brandon Cameron, Tara Jackson, Max Kumangai, Alex Lugo, and Tanner Ray Wilson.

Hadestown originated as Anaïs Mitchell’s indie theater project that toured Vermont which she then turned into an acclaimed album. With Rachel Chavkin, her artistic collaborator, Hadestown has been transformed into a genre-defying new musical that blends modern American folk music with New Orleans-inspired jazz to reimagine a sweeping ancient tale.

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